Framing Memory

10 April 2019 - 2 July 2019
Captain Reg Saunders Gallery

Reverse-painted glass framed photographs are a rare and fragile part of the Memorial’s collection. This is the first time they have been exhibited together, allowing visitors to view these luminous works first hand.

An illuminated framed portrait of 6210 Private (Pte) Harold David Murray, 20th Battalion, of Forest Lodge, NSW. P03760

An illuminated framed portrait of 6210 Private (Pte) Harold David Murray, 20th Battalion, of Forest Lodge, NSW. P03760

Patriotic framing evolved throughout the First World War into decorative and personalised products as studio photographers and businesses sought to stand out from their competitors. The centuries-old art form of reverse-glass painting was applied here to frame a photograph, putting it in a more popular and accessible market. The designs vary, but can include flags, art nouveau forms, and floral and memorial emblems.

The maker of these frames is unknown, but the use of New South Wales native waratahs and flannel flowers indicate they were operating in Sydney. A 1918 advertisement suggests that Sydney department store Anthony Hordern was involved in the sale of these items. The Memorial has the largest-known collection of these fragile and rarely displayed glass-framed portraits in the world.

Reverse painted glass framed portrait of Wallace Benjamin Giffin. P03280

From the collection

Explore the collection of reverse painted glass framed portraits.